• Killing time

    I'm in a rather unusual position writing today's article. It's Tuesday afternoon (5/2) and I'm sitting in a hospital room waiting on Doctor's. This article was written because that's exactly what I'm doing right now…killing time. Whilst not everyone can write articles to chew the hours away (or wants to for that matter), it's just one of a number of ways you can kill time while on a plane, in a waiting room or anywhere else you may find yourself waiting.

    A doctor's room may seem like a strange place for an extended wait (we tend to hope they attend to you in less than an hour or two) but in my case, my wife is 41 weeks pregnant and being induced. For those who haven't been through the inducing process, you have to be here for an hour before the doctor see's you so they can monitor blood pressure and baby heart rates. After an hour of waiting (if the Obstetrician arrives on time) they apply an inducing gel and you have to wait for another 4 hours so they can continue to monitor you. While most people may think their job is to support their wives, the inducing process can be a particularly boring one. My wife is in pretty much the same boat and I had to make sure I had some things for her before the process of labour starts, and if we're lucky, the baby may be born sometime tonight (it's now 3pm) or tomorrow depending on how things go. In saying that, I would be careful about “planning” anything during labour, particularly if it happens naturally. You're basically there as a "yes" man for your wife, so if she wants you to rub her feet for 14 hours solid, you better drop that iPad and hope you're fit. Put the iPad in your bag but don’t plan on using it unless your wife is sleeping.

    Massaging feet aside, as part of the preparation for this process I put together some ideas for killing time so hopefully this may give some of you ideas.


    This is probably the first fall back most people look at. I'm not a massive game fan and I generally find myself getting bored with games after about an hour but if you can find a couple of decent games that take time, it's one area to consider. Headphones are a must; I don't think other people are going to appreciate hearing what you are doing. I'd recommend finding at least 5-10 good games if you have hours to waste. You're bound to get bored of them pretty quickly and some may not be as good as you expected. Multilevel games like Angry Birds tend to do a better job but the challenge is finding games that offer this.


    Some people can spend hours on the web. Oddly enough, you can spend hours on the web wasting time until you have to and then suddenly you get bored quickly and can’t find anything to do. If you're that kind of person and the situation allows for it (high speed internet is an option on some planes), it may provide a good way to get through the hours. If you get bored with the Internet, the alternatives are YouTube, which can be surprisingly entertaining if you know what topics to search for. Doing a search for "Win Fail" can provide hours of entertainment as you see people either destroying themselves or succeeding in amazing stunts.


    Obviously movies are a pretty good way to kill time, particularly long periods of time. Whilst movies are great, but don't discount some series which can be even better. How many times have you started a series online to download the next 11 episodes and watch them in one night? Sure it can get a bit much in one day, but that's generally after the 5th episode in a row and voila, you've killed 4-5 hours in the process. Again, headphones are key unless you want to annoy people nearby. Avoid topics that might provide discomfort. I.e. movies about plane crashes while on a plane if you’re a nervous flyer.


    Sometimes there are things you can write. In my case I'm going through the usual preparation, getting lists of people to email about the new arrival and preparing SMS's and emails to send out to family.


    I often use time on planes to sort and file emails, get rid of the crap on my machine, do duplicate checks on files, and the rest of those annoying tasks that you'll have to do eventually but don't want to. In some cases Internet can be a requirement but checking for duplicate files doesn't require it. You can add to this the usual sort of admin tasks like deleting files to open space on your drive or sorting and filing photos.


    If ever you wanted a better time to go through old photos and enhance them, this may be it. Chances are those old photos were created on an old version of iPhoto and you may be sitting with the latest version of Lightroom or Aperture.


    Yeah, I know it's the last thing that you want to look at but sometimes there is no better time to look at it than when you can't be bothered by colleagues or phone calls. If my boss is reading this, I was doing my work while my wife was doing the rest of the stuff in this article.

    If any of you have other ideas to throw in the mix, feel free to comment.

    About the author

    Athol Hill is the Practice Lead for Stonebridge Systems , an SAP & OpenText implementation partner specialising in web and content management implementations and strategy.

    He is a certified SAP and Project Management Professional with a large number of implementations spanning the globe including Australasia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. When he isn't kitesurfing or spending time with his family, Athol writes part time for Mactalk on a range of subjects including iOS/OSX in the workplace, bleeding edge, product reviews and anything Mac. If you have something new and exciting to review, feel free to get in touch. He can be contacted via twitter on @themissionman or email on athol.hill@mactalk.com.au. Opinions noted here are Athol's own and aren't any official policy of position of his employer.
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